A/N: response to the "Secrets" challenge. This is also a sample of an idea for a longer Black sisters story I have, so please tell me if you'd like to see more of this sort of thing. Title from "Young Blood" by the Naked and Famous.
"Evan, darling, I'm getting a headache. Let's sit down for a minute."
"No, I want to keep dancing," Evan said, his eyes positively glued to the singing, swaying trio of Veela; the couple was dancing so close that undoubtedly the Veela could hear them.
Not that Andromeda cared what the Veela thought of them. Their screeching was responsible for at least half her headache; the rest was due to the fact that Evan had hardly looked at her all night, hadn't even complimented her on her new dress robes, midnight-blue silk and imported from France, unbelievably expensive and drastically low-cut in a way that only the French could get away with. She looked gorgeous; she knew she looked gorgeous, but when there were Veela around, not even Andromeda Black could hope to compare.
Andromeda started at the sudden and surprisingly cheerful whisper in her ear. An instant later, she felt a heel bang into her shin. She stumbled forward, catching herself on Evan's shoulders – he barely noticed, still entranced by the Veela.
I hope his head sticks that way, Andromeda thought viciously, and turned to see Bellatrix waltzing haphazardly in the arms of the one responsible for hiring the Veela, Dorian Wilkes – it was his seventeenth birthday, and the Black sisters, as well as most of the teenage purebloods in Britain, were attending a ball thrown in his honor. Both Dorian and Bellatrix were already more than half-drunk on champagne and wine, not to mention the firewhiskey the Lestranges had brought.
"Andie, go look after Cissy, will you? She's been moping all night."
"Why don't you do it?" Andromeda said.
"Because I'm having fun!" Bellatrix said, much too loudly, so Andromeda just rolled her eyes. Bellatrix was right, after all, even if she was rather drunk.
"Evan, I'm going to sit down for a moment. Find a new partner if you want to dance so much," she said, rather acidly. Her venom was wasted on Evan, who only nodded dumbly and continued turning in place, until Bellatrix shrieked with laughter and caught his hand to pull him into a circle with her and Dorian.
Bellatrix turned and twirled with Evan and Dorian, watching until Andromeda was out of earshot. "There's a meeting tomorrow, isn't there? Or if not tomorrow, the day after. I know it's happening over the holiday, I know it!"
"Bellatrix, that's none of your business," Evan said, barely looking at her.
"Yeah, these things are a matter of condif – confed - "
"Confidentiality, Wilkes, you drunken idiot," Bellatrix snapped. "Take me, tell him about me – you know I can do it, I'm the top dueler in our year. I'm seventeen, I'm a seventh-year – there are sixth-years joining, I know it, and I don't know why I've not been asked!"
"I know," Evan said, finally looking away from the Veela. "Let's sit Wilkes down and you and me, we'll take a walk outside and talk about it."
"Yes," Bellatrix said.
Bellatrix was right: Narcissa was moping. She was sitting by herself on one of the chaise-lounges adorning the perimeter of the ballroom, picking at the remains of a piece of birthday cake. A glass of champagne sat nearly untouched by her feet.
Andromeda plopped down beside her and immediately sighed in relief; she hadn't realized how much her feet hurt. She helped herself to Narcissa's champagne, taking an unladylike swallow. Maybe it would help her headache.
"Cissy, you're not dancing," she said. "You begged and begged Mother to be allowed to attend, but now that we're here you just sit on the sidelines and watch. Why are you always such a wallflower?"
"I'm not a wallflower," Narcissa said. "They're all staring at those Veela. And I'm not going to ask them!"
Andromeda sighed. "Cissy, you have to be creative in situations like this. Remember the look we taught you?"
Narcissa nodded and did her best approximation of the Black sisters seductive gaze – chin tilted slightly downwards, hooded eyes looking upwards through thick eyelashes. It didn't quite work on her – Narcissa didn't have the Black features, after all, but it would be enough to capture the hearts of most fourteen-year-old boys.
"Get ready," Andromeda said, and slipped her wand out from her sleeve, studying the nearby partygoers. Max Flint was in Narcissa's year, but better for Narcissa to be sitting alone than to be seen dancing with him. Oh, there – Adrian Fawcett. He was in Ravenclaw, but he was as pureblood as any, and he was a year older than Narcissa and good-looking, too – he would do.
"Now," Andromeda whispered, and quickly cast a Tripping Hex. Fawcett stumbled then looked directly at Narcissa. She blushed and dipped her head, glancing up at Fawcett. Well, it was a start.
Fawcett stared as if she were one of the Veela. "Go," Andromeda said, and shoved her. Narcissa tottered forward – Bellatrix should not have leant her those shoes – and Fawcett stepped forward to meet her. Seconds later, they were dancing.
Andromeda leaned back and finished Cissy's champagne. Why was she the only Black girl completely invisible tonight? Stupid Veela.
"Andromeda. Care to dance?"
Andie looked up, surprised, to see Edmund MacMillan. She smiled and stood; Edmund wasn't anyone's idea of the ideal dance partner – he was a Hufflepuff, after all – but he was rich, and he was a pureblood, and he was, after three years of shared Arithmancy and Ancient Runes, and six years of shared Charms and Potions, almost her friend.
"Of course," she said. It wasn't as if Evan would notice, anyway.
Edmund led her onto the dance floor, as far away from the Veela and drooling sixth- and seventh-year Slytherins as possible. Bellatrix seemed to have disappeared.
"Ted says hi," Edmund said.
"What? I don't care. Why would you tell me that?" Andromeda said immediately.
Edmund grinned. "Just delivering a message."
"Well, what is it?"
"Just that. Hi. Do you have anything you'd like to say to him?"
"Yes," Andromeda said. "Tell him that just because we had detention together doesn't mean we're friends. He's a Mudblood and I want him to leave me alone."
Infuriatingly, Edmund smiled. "I'll tell him."
"Good," Andromeda said. She'd caught sight of Bellatrix and Evan reentering the ballroom together, their faces rosy from the cold. Bellatrix had that familiar look on her face – that look she got when she was plotting something. "Now, if you don't mind, I think I'll go dance with my boyfriend."
Evan was soon too drunk to stand, let alone dance, so for the remainder of the night Andromeda watched him and Dorian finish the firewhiskey and drool over the Veela. She watched Bellatrix dancing wildly, barefoot now, with each of the seventh-year Slytherin boys in turn, stumbling and laughing and making enough of a scene to distract from the Veela. Occasionally, Bellatrix turned to Rodolphus Lestrange; from the way she was swaying her hips and tossing her hair, and occasionally flapping her arms like wings, she was probably mocking the Veela. Rodolphus didn't seem to notice, though; he simply stared, goggle-eyed.
It was hours before it was time to leave.
Somehow, Bella fell asleep against Andromeda in the Floo; good thing Andromeda had made them all Floo together, arms linked like when they were children. Narcissa wasn't much better, coming out of the fireplace and collapsing on the sofa, so Andromeda Levitated them both to her bed.
"Like when we were little," she murmured.
Andromeda changed into her nightgown, carefully hanging her unappreciated dress robes. She followed her nighttime routine, washing her face thoroughly and brushing her hair one hundred strokes, and as she climbed into bed she could see the first rays of the wintery sun shining over the horizon.
She shut the curtains.
Her last thought before she fell asleep was of Ted Tonks.